There are many reasons why we may suffer from anxiety. It is both a simple and complex symptom. Everyone will experience anxiety at various points throughout their life. This is normal. However, for some it is a day to day experience.
Anxiety can seem to have many causes; such as concern over an exam or job interview; changing career; moving home; the loss a loved one; separation from family, partners or friends; loneliness and isolation; feelings of abandonment; sickness and hospitalization; death anxiety; and trauma of any kind. There is also the anxiety and fear of being intimate and honest with ourselves as well as with others; and there are social anxieties such as speaking and interacting in groups. Anxiety may also point to other emotional states that are difficult to bear, whether it is caused by an external event, or an event that has triggered internal anxieties that were hitherto unconscious to the individual.
Uncertainty and anxiety go hand in hand. It is important to try and make friends with change. Any kind of change, internal or external, can produce or reveal anxiety. We can also suffer anxiety when faced with personal, psychological and/or spiritual growth. There are a number of personal and psychological changes that help us grow and mature as we move through life; the purpose of which is to help us embrace a more meaningful existence. Many theorists postulate that a series of ‘psychological deaths’ are part and parcel to our stages of growth. Another way of putting this is that for some of us there is the anxiety and fear of being more fully alive, responsible and empowered; especially when we are called to let go of habit patterns that no longer serve us but which we have been strongly identified with because they give us a sense of the familiar.
And common to all of us, consciously or unconsciously, are anxieties surrounding death and the unknown. The constant grasping to secure our future, which may seem very practical, can produce a lot of anxiety if it takes us away from the here and now, the only place where peace, healing and wholeness may be available to us. Death, the unknown, and the here and now, are all jumbled up in the unconscious mind and need to be differentiated.
The symptom of anxiety is very much part of being human and does not necessarily mean there is a disorder, but it can lead to disordered states and can also be indicative of unresolved trauma. Anxiety is often the result of repressed feelings. It is an umbrella term which conceals many emotional states such as anger, rage, fear, sadness and grief, and even the joy and intimacy of being more fully alive, if simply because it is concealed and therefore in the unknown. At the bottom line, anxiety indicates that we have in some way become removed from ourselves – separated from our authenticity – and so essential to the treatment for anxiety is self-care, self appreciation and self-honoring in a way that allows the expression of difficult feelings and the emergence of our innate integrity as a grounded felt experience. The aim is to come back to the Self and be comfortable in our own skin.
There are many forms of help for anxiety, such as talking therapies, Mindfulness meditation, walking with nature, good relationships, healthy diet and exercise, self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques, massage; and if needed, medication prescribed by a medical doctor or psychiatrist. Authentic relating, which nurtures the capacity to be more present in the here and now is a great aid to psychological and emotional healing. It helps to nurture a deeper connection with others. Feeling connected to ourselves, to others and the world are great antidotes to anxiety.
- Mid-Life Crises and the Search for Meaning